The process started at a monthly meeting of the Leicester Grange. Members of the Grange, convinced of the advantages of having a rural fire district, authorized the Grange to pay the chartering fee for the Articles of Incorporation to what was to be come the Leicester Volunteer Fire Department, Inc.
Articles of Incorporation
The Articles of Incorporation were drawn up with eighty-two members of the community being listed as original incorporators. A temporary Board of Directors was also elected to serve until the first annual meeting of the new corporation. The Articles were then presented to the North Carolina Secretary of State.
Articles of Incorporation Accepted
The NC Secretary of State approved the Articles of Incorporation, granting a charter to Leicester Volunteer Fire Department, Inc.
The Charter and Articles of Incorporation were legally recorded in the Office of the Clerk of Superior Court, Buncombe County, NC.
The first official annual meeting for the Department was held, including an election for a permanent Board of Directors.
During the latter part of 1965 and early 1966, the members of the Board kept busy by appointing a Chief and Assistant Chief, working on a description of the bounds for the Department, the possible purchase of a fire apparatus, and securing a location to house the Department.
A Building Emerges
The decision was made to convert the old Agriculture shop at the Leicester School into a fire station.
The First Apparatus
Once the building was secured, the first fire apparatus was ordered from American LaFrance Corporation at a cost of $16,090. In comparison, the cost of a similar apparatus in today’s market is $332,930.
Enhancing Services to the Community
Thoughts then turned to providing emergency medical services to the community. A used 1957 Pontiac ambulance was purchased from the Buncombe County Rescue Squad at a cost of $350. Affectionately known as “The Blue Goose,” this ambulance was in service until June, 1969.
The Ladies Auxiliary was formed.
The first of several turkey shoots was held to help raise funds for the Department.
A New Ambulance Purchase
“The Blue Goose” was replaced with a new Chevrolet ambulance at a cost of $4,315.30. In comparison to today’s market, the Department purchased a new ambulance in October 2014 at a cost of $158,300.78, excluding equipment.
Permanent Housing Discussion
The Board of Directors discussed acquiring a permanent home for the Fire Department. The Leicester Youth Center was recommended.
The Board of Directors discussed securing land in front of the Leicester School.
A portion of the Frank Lowery property along New Leicester Highway was reported to be for sale.
The Board of Directors unanimously voted to purchase the Lowery property.
The worst natural disaster involving the Leicester Volunteer Fire Department occurred when an earthen dam for a small lake broke at the head of Newfound Creek. The surge of water took the lives of four (4) family members in its path.
The first annual Horse Show, sponsored by the Department and assisted by the Auxiliary, was held at the Leicester School.
Throughout 1977 and early 1978, construction began and continued for the new building to become the permanent home of the Leicester Fire Department.
Open House Held
An open house was held to dedicate the new home of the Department.
Medical Services Changes
In agreement with Buncombe County Emergency Medical Services, two certified EMT-Intermediate county ambulance personnel were placed at the Department to answer calls during the day, Monday through Friday. This agreement was an asset to the community; however, emergency medical services reverted back to the EMT-Basic level coverage at nights and on weekends with those services being rendered by volunteer personnel.
A Growing Department
Several significant changes occurred from mid-1981 through the Fall of 1986. The inception and distribution of a periodic Fire Department Newsletter, the LVFD News & Notes, began. Various apparatus and pieces of equipment were also purchased.
Increasing Medical Services
The volunteer emergency medical services for the Department was upgraded from the EMT-Basic level to the EMT-Intermediate level.
Fire Tax District Expands
The fire tax district expanded from a four mile district to a five mile district after criteria was met as set forth by the State of North Carolina and the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners.
Beginning at 1000 hours, the new, enhanced emergency telephone number was activated in Buncombe County.
Blizzard of the Century Hits
The “Blizzard of the Century” struck Western North Carolina, thus causing volunteer personnel to continually man the station from late Friday night, March 13, through early Wednesday, March 18.
First Paid Employee
The first paid employee was hired in the Fall of 1995.
Considerations of a Substation
Buncombe County owned property adjacent to the old Sandymush School, which the Department sought after, beginning in June 1996. Leicester Fire Department secured this property in December 1996 as the site for the building of a substation in the Sandymush community.
At the request of the citizens and through actions taken by the Madison County Board of Commissioners, a referendum was placed on the general election ballot to allow for the creation of a “Leicester Fire District.” This district would be comprised within a specific geological region of Madison County that bordered a portion of the Leicester Fire District within Buncombe County.
The referendum passed favorably, with the tax rate being set at the Fire Department’s current level of $0.10 per one hundred dollars of property evaluation.
Funding for the Sandymush Substation is Secured
A loan is secured for the Sandymush substation, with construction beginning soon thereafter.
Open House for Sandymush
An open house is held to celebrate the opening of the Sandymush substation.
First Paid Fire Chief Hired
The first paid Fire Chief is hired by the Department.
Mid-2000 through mid-2007 was a period of the Department’s history when the significant occurrences primarily consisted of adding additional full-time and part-time personnel and the purchase and upgrading of various apparatus and equipment.
Additional Sandymush Personnel
The Department began staffing the Sandymush substation with two paid personnel, twelve hours a day, seven days a week.
Additional Property Purchased for Future
The Department closed on the purchase of a 10.2-acre tract of property adjacent to the Leicester Public Library, with the intent of constructing a new fire department main station at this location in the future. On the same day, the Department also closed on the purchase of a 5.23-acre tract at 1075 Newfound Road, with the intent of building a new substation at this location in the future.
Construction Begins on Station 3
Construction begins on the Newfound substation.
The Newfound substation is opened and staffed with two paid personnel, twelve hours a day, seven days a week.
Open House for Newfound
Open house dedication was held for the Newfound substation.
Insurance Rating Lowered
Due to the hard work of many Fire Department personnel, both paid and volunteer, and through the passing of an inspection as set forth by the North Carolina Department of Insurance – Office of State Fire Marshal, the fire protection class rating was lowered to a 6E for those residents living within five road miles of any of the Department’s three stations. This lowering resulted in a noticeable deduction in fire insurance premiums of those living in these areas.
Substation Staffing Changes
The Sandymush and Newfound substations are now being staffed with two paid personnel twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.
EMS Level Increased
The emergency medical services of the Fire Department was upgraded from an EMT-Intermediate level to the EMT-Paramedic level.